WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ADR ?
Amongst other things, "Going to Law" to settle disputes is often
- an intimidating experience for the parties
- expensive - especially in respect of legal costs and fees.
- time consuming with lengthy meetings between the parties and lawyers and in preparing evidence and discussing strategies'.
- long winded and protracted as correspondence flows back and forth between the parties and their lawyers and in waiting for court hearings. It may take two or more years to get to court.
- damaging to business interests. Court hearings result in private business being aired in public, jeopardising public confidence in ones business affairs.
- harmful to relationships since the win/lose adversarial aspect of litigation tends to further alienate the parties making it difficult to maintain business relations after the dispute has been brought to a judicial conclusion.
- considered to result in unfair and illogical outcomes which do not reflect commercial realities. Lawyers and judges are perceived by many as being out of touch and as having little empathy for the concerns and the needs of clients and the people who appear before them in court.
By contrast, to varying degrees, ADR processes are likely to be :-
- Less formal and far more consumer friendly than attending court hearings.
- Less expensive than going to law.
- Less demanding on personal time in respect of preparation for the process.
- Much quicker, enabling parties to get on with business sooner.
- Conducted in private, protecting business confidentiality and reputation.
- Less divisive and assists reconciliation between the parties.
- Conducted by individuals with commercial and industrial experience.
It is hardly surprising therefore that many people and organisations choose to settle their disputes in private, bypassing the judicial system. Arbitration has been used in the United Kingdom and internationally for going on for 400 years. Adjudication is now a significant part of the dispute resolution process in the United Kingdom. Conciliation has played a significant role in employer / trade union dispute settlement for almost half a century. Many large employers today operate an internal grievance procedure which helps to keep disputes out of industrial tribunals and the courts.